Knowing when to visit the Isle of Skye can be a difficult decision for those unfamiliar with Scotland.

If you are still deciding when to visit Isle of Skye, in this article you will learn about the best time to visit Isle of Skye based on considerations about the weather, scenery, insects, and peak travel times.

Otherwise, you may have already decided what time of year you want to visit Isle of Skye, and in that case – this article will give you information on the season and tips for your visit.

Cloudy September day in Quiraing Isle of SKye - best time to visit Isle of Skye

When I went to Isle of Skye in September 2020, although my trip dates were not flexible, I was not properly warned about the conditions to expect. I spent hours researching Isle of Skye itineraries and it was not clear to me the impact of the notorious Isle of Skye midges (insects like mosquitos).

Only once I had booked my trip and spoken to some Scottish family friends, did I discover that visiting Scotland in summer (even into early September) would mean meeting an abundance of midges.

Therefore, this article draws from my knowledge of visiting Scotland in September. Plus, I have spoken to numerous people from Scotland, and they have advised me when is the best time of the year to visit Isle of Skye. Hint: the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges is from November to April.

For help on planning your trip to Scotland, including information on how to get to the Isle of Skye, read this Isle of Skye travel guide.

What is the Average Weather Isle of Skye?

Clouds at loch in Ratagan near to Isle of Skye - llamas grazing on grass
Loch Duich

The weather in Isle of Skye is known for its rainy conditions. The good news is that Isle of Skye scenery is incredible all year round, no matter the weather.

Using information from Met Office about Isle of Skye weather, here are some conclusions.

Isle of Skye Weather in Winter (December – February)

  • During these months, temperatures are at their lowest, ranging from 6.64°C to 7.05°C for maximum temperatures and 1.76°C to 1.95°C for minimum temperatures.
  • January and December experience the highest precipitation, exceeding 200mm each.
  • Sunshine hours are notably lower in winter, with fewer than 65 hours per month.

Isle of Skye Weather in Spring (March – May)

  • Temperatures begin to rise, reaching a maximum of 14.08°C in May.
  • Rainfall substantially decreases, and sunshine increases, peaking at 195 hours in May.

Isle of Skye Weather in Summer (June – August)

  • This period records the highest temperatures, with maximum temperatures reaching up to 17.09°C.
  • Rainfall is relatively low compared to other seasons but shows a gradual increase in August.
  • Despite being the warmest months, June and July have fewer sunshine hours than May.

Isle of Skye Weather in Autumn (September – November)

  • Temperatures start to decline, with maximum temperatures dropping to 8.93°C in November.
  • Rainfall is significantly increased, particularly in October and November, each receiving nearly 200mm.
  • Sunshine hours decreased, with November registering only 40 hours.

How Often Does It Rain in Isle of Skye?

Rain at Coral Bay Beach with hooded walkers on sand
Coral Bay Beach

The Isle of Skye, located in Scotland, is known for its rainy weather.

The average annual rainfall in Isle of Skye is approximately 1,769 mm, compared to the UK‘s average, which is 1,162 mm annually.

How Much Snow Does Isle of Skye Get?

Isle of Skye does not see much snow as it is reasonably mild and is located close to the sea. Although, some of the peaks and mountains in the area will likely be topped with snow.

Many of the snowiest places in the UK are in Scotland, but Isle of Skye is not in the top 10.

The places that get the most snow in Scotland include some of the more remote islands, such as Fair Isle and Baltasound, which are much further north (in line with Norway). Or Cairngorm Mountain where it is possible to ski.

How Much Daylight Does Scotland Get in Summer?

Neist Point Lighthouse and cliff - Isle of Skye Scotland
Neist Point Lighthouse

In June, the sun rises as early as 5:30 AM and sets as late as 9:09 PM, which is over 15 hours of daylight in Isle of Skye in summer.

You will get much more done in a day on Isle of Skye during summer compared to winter because the daylight hours vary drastically.

In December, the latest sunrise is 7:56 AM and the earliest sunrise is at 4:36 PM, meaning you will have less than 9 hours of daylight in Isle of Skye in winter.

Best Time to Visit Isle of Skye for Good Weather

Silver Sands of Morar beach near to Mallaig ferry terminal Scotland
Silver Sands of Morar

If you are looking for warmer weather, the best time to travel to Isle of Skye is during summer, from around June to August.

June temperatures range between 8 – 16 degrees Celsius, and August ranges from 10.5 – 17 degrees Celsius. So, Skye is not a warm summer destination, but June to August is when you will get the warmest temperatures in Isle of Skye.

Another reason summer makes a good time to visit Isle of Skye is due to longer daylight hours for exploring (as mentioned in the section above). You can do much more sightseeing in summer and there is more daylight for an afternoon activity.

Although it is summer in Scotland, do not expect blue skies. The weather on Isle of Skye is unpredictable. But the grey skies in Scotland can create mysterious backdrops.

There is typically less rain in summer, but you still need to pack a light waterproof jacket because there is always a chance of rain. Find out my packing recommendations for Scotland here.

It is important to know that Highland Midges appear in summer on Isle of Skye. Midges are mosquito-like insects, in that they bite and fly, and they travel in swarms. Midge bites leave a red mark and can be itchy, but they do not carry malaria.

Midges thrive in humid and damp environments, favouring shaded areas. They are commonly found in forests, woods, marshlands, and along the banks of lochs, rivers, and ponds. Midges appear most commonly at dusk or dawn.

How to Deal with Midges in Isle of Skye?

Hiking in Quiraing Isle of Skye wearing long sleeves in summer
Quiraing

If you plan to visit Isle of Skye from May to October, you will need some tips on dealing with the midges

On the occasions when you are planning on going to a location where the Isle of Skye midges are abundant, such as Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle, or Fort William on your way to the Isle of Skye, here are some tactics.

Firstly, Use Smidge’s midge forecast to keep track of the midges around Scotland. The forecast is not online outside of midge season. 

Secondly, wear long sleeves to prevent getting midge bites as much as possible. Luckily for Scotland, the temperature throughout the year will allow for lightweight long-sleeved clothes.

It is also best to wear light-coloured clothing (not black/navy etc) because midges are fond of dark colours. 

Apply anti-insect repellents. Make sure you bring products to repel midges. Try products such as Avon Skin So Soft Original Dry Oil Body Spray, Smidge, and Jungle Formula

In addition to wearing insect-repelling sprays, you should avoid wearing scented lotions or perfumes because this can attract the midges even more.

Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray bottle for insct repellent
Avon Skin So Soft

Sometimes there is no getting around the midges. For example, on damp days, the midges are worse than usual. If you are flexible, head to the coast to benefit from the breeze – midges do not like the wind.

Some places that may be better for this benefit include walking along Coral Bay, going on a boat cruise, and walking to Neist Point Lighthouse. I did not experience midges while on those walks or excursions. 

On damp days, you could arrange indoor activities on the Isle of Skye, such as whisky tasting at Talisker Distillery or a visit to the Staffin Dinosaur Museum. 

However, if you have plans involving visiting a highly dense zone of midges, you may wish to purchase a net hat, such as this net hat from Amazon.

Best Time to Visit Isle of Skye to Avoid Midges

Ratagan loch with views of mountains and sunset
Ratagan

Midges are prevalent between May and October, although they are inescapable in July and August. These insects do not survive in the cold (they need above 4 degrees Celsius) to survive; hence, they are most common in summer. 

If you want to avoid the midges in Scotland, the best time for visiting Isle of Skye is in April, since this is the pre-midge season.

Alternatively, you can visit anytime between November and April. You could also get away with a visit in May if the midges do not hatch early. 

Midges are unpredictable, and it is impossible to guarantee that there will or will not be any midges during your visit. I visited Scotland in early September and there were plenty of midges. 

The benefit of visiting the Isle of Skye between November and April is that there will be fewer tourists. The island can get extremely busy in summer, with tourists filling hotels, restaurants, and car parks. Therefore, another benefit to visiting outside peak season is the smaller crowds. 

The Scottish Highlands is the worst place for midges in Scotland – in particular the western areas, such as Isle of Skye and Glencoe area. As you travel further inland towards the east coast of Scotland, you will see fewer midges. For example, there are fewer midges in places such as Edinburgh, Perth, and Stirling.

The presence of midges is worst in places where you are standing still, for example, when watching Glenfinnan Viaduct (2 hours from Isle of Skye) or strolling around Dunvegan Castle. 

Best Time to Visit Isle of Skye for Scenery

Heather in Scotland in September (Eilean Na Moine)
Heather at Eilean Na Moine

In September and October, the trees turn stunning shades of orange and the heather in the fields turn a vibrant purple. These colours make for excellent views and photos. 

Bushes, grass, and rowans change to a brilliant shade of orange around many of the top spots in Skye such as Quiraing, Fairy Pools, and Old Man of Storr.

The benefit of visiting Isle of Skye in autumn is smaller crowds. However, the midges are still out in abundance in early September, as I experienced.

Be aware that some attractions close at the end of the summer period. For example, some boat excursions will stop running at the end of September. Plus, the afternoon schedule of the Glenfinnan Viaduct ends in late September.

Best Time to Visit Isle of Skye to Avoid Crowds

If you are looking for the quietest time of year to visit Isle of Skye, then you should aim for outside the school holidays. For example, avoid July, August, Christmas, and Easter. 

During these peak periods, it is difficult to find spots in car parks for main attractions, the restaurants are busy, and accommodation is limited. So, you must wake up early to get the best spots and be extremely organised with booking dinners and hotels. 

Another benefit to visiting Isle of Skye in the off-peak periods is that there will be more competitive pricing for accommodation. 

Suggested Hotels in Isle of Skye

Conclusion – Best Time to Visit Isle of Skye Scotland

Cliffs around Neist Point Lighthouse on Isle of Skye Scotland - coastal view
Cliffs around Neist Point

The optimal time to visit the Isle of Skye is determined by various factors such as weather, midge activity, crowd levels, and scenic beauty.

If your preference is for milder weather and longer daylight hours, the summer months from June to August offer the best conditions, although be prepared for midges during this period.

For those looking for the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges – plan a trip between November and April. 

If capturing the breathtaking autumnal scenery is a priority, September and October will present vibrant shades of orange and purple across the landscapes. However, be mindful of lingering midge activity in early September.

For a quieter experience with fewer crowds, steer clear of school holidays, particularly in July, August, Christmas, and Easter. Off-peak periods not only provide peace but also offer more competitive pricing for accommodation.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Skye is during the shoulder seasons of late spring or early autumn when the weather is favourable, midge activity is reduced, and the landscapes boast stunning colours without the peak tourist influx. However, April and May may be better than October and November because of the increased sunshine and reduced rainfall. 

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